Skip

we'll be the Pirate Twins again, Europa
April 8, 2006 12:39 AM   Subscribe

Thomas Dolby, 80's Pop Icon, '90s Tech Mogul, Alton Brown lookalike, Somnificationist and NOT the inventor of Dolby noise reduction is returning to live touring after a few hundred internet years away. He's performing solo with lots of cool gadgets (and blogging). And, perfectly timed for promotional purposes, he's joined the K-Fed Haters.
posted by wendell (33 comments total)

 

posted by wakko at 1:04 AM on April 8, 2006


Okay, the link that says "NOT the inventor of Dolby noise reduction" has this text:

Dolby Laboratories are located in San Francisco, Ca. and developed a technique for reducing noise in audio recordings. This patented innovation was developed by Thomas Dolby in 1965 particularly for the recording industry.

So, how exactly does your link verify the link text? According to wikipedia it was Ray Dolby who came up with the noise reduction system.
posted by delmoi at 1:33 AM on April 8, 2006


Well, I've got my ticket.

delmoi: Wikipedia is right; in fact, the Laboratories sued (or at least pressured) Thomas for using the name. I think wendell was linking to that page as an example of one of the many sources that make the mistake.

(This must be one of very few cases where unauthorized but non-malicious use of a trademarked name has actually caused a lot of confusion.)
posted by vruba at 1:40 AM on April 8, 2006


sotty, delmoi, I forgot the <smirk like Jon Stewart> tag... I was Googling for a good link for when Dolby Labs sued Thomas Dolby Robertson, which I never found, but I did find this ironic misinformation... a great example of why Wikipedia is not necessarily your worst source.
posted by wendell at 1:53 AM on April 8, 2006


I met Thomas Dolby Robertson about five years back at a party held by a woman who regularly hosts public dinners in San Francisco for people in the polyamorous community. It was a friendly, social gathering with about 120 people throughout the evening, and though there was a good deal of flirtation and some nude hottubbing, it was pretty mild, respectful event, with something for pretty much everyone.

Thomas, who was living in Half Moon Bay at the time, attended with his wife and was a very nice guy -- rather quiet, probably getting his feet wet within the community. From what I could gather, he been to similar parties in Southern California, but wasn't as familiar with the local community. I strongly suspect he has bisexual tendencies, but he certainly cares very deeply for his wife and is very protective of his family.

(I wouldn't even mention all this if I didn't think that, in this day and age, it's really no big deal, especially on the blue. The most anyone can definitively take out of this post is that he's creative, curious, and generally openminded, which is hardly a sin.)

He and I talked a bit about Beatnik, LiveJournal, blogging, and general stuff. I remember that he mentioned his love of sailboarding, which he apparently does somewhere near his home, and his love/hate relationship with the music business. My wife also talked to him and his wife about kids, his music, etc.

I'm glad he's touring again, presumably because his kids are in their early teens now, though I hear he has been known to do small, invite only performances in the bay area every year or two to keep his feet wet. Really, he's a very nice person. It was great to see him sell his last album online to the extent that he did... hopefully he's finally finding some kind of balance in his life as an independent musician and artist. I'd love to see him get a chance to not have to be so business-oriented for a change.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:56 AM on April 8, 2006


How does Dolby in a live event compare to Dolby on recordings?
posted by pax digita at 4:38 AM on April 8, 2006


"How does Dolby in a live event compare to Dolby on recordings?"

One is analog, the other is digital, with surround sound. ;-)
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:53 AM on April 8, 2006


I thought it was "Dubbly."
posted by Man-Thing at 6:41 AM on April 8, 2006


Let me guess: had Prince or David Byrne sampled Dolby, there would be no "contemplating legal action".
posted by wfc123 at 7:07 AM on April 8, 2006


Good news. He was the original victim of Nada Surf syndrome. Reviled for a song he didn't even write (Blinded By Science) and subsequently overlooked as he produced some pretty sublime works of lyrical and musical wizardry. I'd pay handsomely to see him perform "Screen Kiss" live. His early live shows in the late eighties translated from the studio really well and the tour for 'Aliens Ate My Buick' sounded great as well.
posted by docpops at 7:24 AM on April 8, 2006


Check out this video from the 1985 Grammys with Thomas Dolby, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder and Howard Jones. Dolby's got huge hair and a rather small synthesizer, but Stevie steals the show--at least until the finale starts.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:41 AM on April 8, 2006


re hydrophonic's video: It was cool of Stephen Hawking to host the event.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:56 AM on April 8, 2006


he blinded me with science.
posted by quonsar at 8:26 AM on April 8, 2006


It was cool of Stephen Hawking to host the event.

You're going straight to hell.
posted by docpops at 8:30 AM on April 8, 2006


Dolby played keyboards on Def Leppard's Pyromania album, but the whole thing was kept hush hush because DL's audience wouldn't have approved of a new wave synth guy playing on the album, and Dolby's fans probably wouldn't have liked him appearing on a "Metal" album either.
posted by Devils Slide at 8:48 AM on April 8, 2006



he blinded me with science.


Way to drop the meme-ball, q. Here, allow me:

he blinded me with SCIENCE!
posted by sourwookie at 9:26 AM on April 8, 2006


i <3 thomas dolby's music, e.g. flying north, one of our submarines, screen kiss, budapest by blimp, the flat earth, pulp culture, i love you goodbye, and some parts of the mind's eye soundtrack.

i saw him perform (my first time) in SF a few weeks ago with bochum welt and i was pretty content. that was the first time i've heard leipzig. now he's doing another show as a headliner and i will be at that one too. two live shows in two months is a rare and awesome treat.

points to man-thing!

devils slide: also because of record contract legalese, i've heard.

thanks for all the cool stories and tidbits!
posted by clyde at 9:58 AM on April 8, 2006


i <3 thomas dolby's music, e.g. flying north, of our submarines, screen kiss, budapest by blimp, the flat earth, pulp culture, i love you goodbye, and some parts of the mind's eye soundtrack. /em>

Ditto on all the above in spades. And I've never grown tired of the last lines from "Cloudburst at Shingle Street", "when I was small..."

posted by docpops at 10:13 AM on April 8, 2006


I need to learn how to un-italicize.
posted by docpops at 10:14 AM on April 8, 2006


Had a chance to catch him alive (yes, and Howard Jones too) back in the day.

Loved it loved it loved it.

Not to mention the "Metal" thing, but Eddie Van Halen did some work with him also...
posted by Samizdata at 11:29 AM on April 8, 2006


Excellent! *hands over keys to my Ferrari*
posted by Pallas Athena at 12:06 PM on April 8, 2006


I met Thomas Dolby Robertson about five years back at a party held by a woman who regularly hosts public dinners in San Francisco for people in the polyamorous community. It was a friendly, social gathering with about 120 people throughout the evening, and though there was a good deal of flirtation and some nude hottubbing, it was pretty mild, respectful event, with something for pretty much everyone.

Isn't discretion central to that "respect"?, or was the temptation to name drop worth outing him on Metafilter? You're soooo not invited to my next orgy.
posted by tula at 12:24 PM on April 8, 2006


"You're soooo not invited to my next orgy."

Thanks! That said, it wasn't an orgy, and there really is nothing to be particularly discreet about.

It's entirely possible that he was simply trying to find a social/societal setting that's right for him, and I think that's good. I lay no claim to know who he is at heart. He certainly cannot (and most certainly wouldn't want to) be defined by being just one thing or another, he has shown himself to be a musician, a businessman, a father, a husband, etc. He's also a human too.

I mean him no disrespect at all, but I do think that discretion is overrated if it means that simple things such as this cannot be discussed nowadays. For instance, which Margaret Cho is Margaret Cho? Is she the one who bellydances, meets with the Clintons, or is she the one that has done public sceneing in the S.F. BDSM community? None of these things define her, and yet perhaps all of them help to do so.

If artists are defined by labels, then certainly skilled and talented should be at the top of the list. Artists are in the business of defining -- and constantly redefining -- themselves anyway.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:01 PM on April 8, 2006


For instance, which Margaret Cho is Margaret Cho?

I think the difference is that Margaret Cho outed herself. Sorry, but your tale reads as indiscreet name-dropping to me as well.
posted by the_bone at 1:29 PM on April 8, 2006


"You're soooo not invited to my next orgy."

Thanks! That said, it wasn't an orgy, and there really is nothing to be particularly discreet about.


You're welcome!

His discretion is his call, not yours. It's not a matter of "sin", it's a matter of personal chioce. One of the tenets of any alternative sexual or lifestyle event is that the individual has the power to decide what happens and who gets to know about it. And I didn't say your event was an orgy, I said mine was, and you're still not invited.
posted by tula at 2:04 PM on April 8, 2006


You two, stop trying to derail the thread up there.

Alright, so i've been through the bulk of the sites here, and i'm coming away with the idea that he's doing all old material? His live gearlist could have made for some really innovative sounds, it's kind of a shame that he's touring with only his old material, crooner style.

Or... did i miss the new album link hidden somewhere?
posted by phylum sinter at 3:08 PM on April 8, 2006


quonsar, why do you think I quoted that other song in the post title? Because that meme is dead... expired... last week in internet time... 1.0... jumped the shark... snaked the plane...

Although I was considering "Good heavens Miss Sakamoto - you're beautiful!" and "At the tender age of three / I was hooked to a machine"..

As for your indiscretion, insomnia_lj, I can't judge; I'm the one who told the story of how Robin Williams mistook me for a famous gay tennis player (which sounds so much dirtier when set up like that...) But you really could've said less about the gathering where you met him...
posted by wendell at 3:11 PM on April 8, 2006


phylum, he's getting his performing feet wet with the oldies; he's been quoted many times saying he's got another album partly still-in-his-head partly assembled in his home studio shed. So, not right now, but it's part of the plan.

Besides, there are still a lot of people like clyde who hadn't heard "Liepzig" before seeing him in concert recently (and "Liepzig" was his first attempted single in '81).
posted by wendell at 3:19 PM on April 8, 2006


I love the way Thomas Dolby's lyrics use technological metaphors for human loneliness and desire to communicate. He gets both sides of the equation exactly right. "Turn the dial till the needle's in the white / Tune in tonight."

As for the dinner party story, I think that leaving out the polyamorous aspect would have been more respectful.
posted by drdanger at 3:58 PM on April 8, 2006


Thomas Dolby is indirectly responsible for my first real job. I was running a small internet company while in college in 1995. I stumbled upon his web site and I offered to do some work for him since I was such a massive fan. Over the course of a half dozen emails, he suggested that I come out to the West Coast (I was in Florida) and create a database for his fan mail.

I was totally stoked -- internet + one of my musical heroes! I emailed him back and said I was totally interested, but since I was also a poor college student, it would be great if he could help me out with a place to stay out there.

I never heard back from him.

A couple months later I got a job offer from another West Coast company and ended up out in the Bay Area anyway. As luck would have it, my CEO and Dolby were both Brit expats and knew each other. A year or so later, Dolby was touring our office and I got to tell him (and my CEO) that if he hadn't been such a cheapskate I never would have known about the job I ended up at.
posted by bpm140 at 5:18 PM on April 8, 2006


Late in the day, here, but MeTa.
posted by dhartung at 5:39 PM on April 8, 2006


Seeing as there are Dolby fans lurking here: is it still possible to get an earlier version of The Golden Age of Wireless? I preferred the mix and song selection before Science and Submarines were added. I think it's the second edition shown here.
posted by pracowity at 1:02 AM on April 9, 2006


I have that second editon, and I think the mixes were only different on one or two tracks. It's not on CD as far as I know.

I wish he was heading in to Boston. New York is do-able, but not on a weeknight.
posted by inthe80s at 9:03 AM on April 9, 2006


« Older He grabbed; she slapped.   |   I've Got Your Chocolate Egg Right Here Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post